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Archive for April, 2014


Tempting Mr. Bass

The right equipment and correct technique can help you land a lunker.
 
I caught my first bass in 1967 while fishing for northern pike on Canada’s Lake of the Woods. On a slow morning I tossed a daredevil out toward a weed bed and a big fish grabbed it and ran. At last, a good-sized pike, I thought. The fish fought hard, broke water, and I saw a flash of gold. It wasn’t a northern pike. It was a muscle-bound bass, and both he and I were hooked.
 
I’m a casual Michigan fisherman now, but our waters are chock full of bass, smallmouth and largemouth. Over the years I’ve learned that even a rank amateur like me can catch fish using the right equipment.
 
Dunham’s is the right place to find the right equipment. I learned that soon after moving to the mitten. And their sales consultants can help you choose gear that works.
 
I grew up with baitcasting reels and love the Shimano Caenan and Citica reels wound with Seaguar Fluorocarbon line, which is invisible underwater. With fast retrieve, either reel is great for bass, which often strike rapidly moving baits. They don’t like to see a meal escape. Dunham’s offers numerous spinning reels as well. Either style reel is well suited to bass fishing. It’s a matter of what you’re comfortable with.
 
Jim Burrows of Pure Fishing tells us that Shakespeare® has a new Ugly Stik® GX2™ rod for 2014. With Ugly Tech Construction, it’s warranteed for seven years. “No doubt this will be the winner for the upcoming 2014 fishing season,” says Jim.
 
Two excellent bass baits that work well with a rapid retrieve are the Rapalo Rippin Rap and the deep-diving DT Series crankbaits. They run below the surface and are favored by tournament pros. Toss them with a light- or medium-action rod of about 7-foot length.
 
A correct drag setting is important. Too much resistance is an invitation for Mr. Bass to break the line and head south. You can adjust drag by tying on a weight that’s half the rating of your line. If your reel is wound with eight-pound test, a four-pound weight should be able to overcome the drag setting and pull line off your reel. That will allow a hooked fish to make a run but will wear him down.
 
Let’s not forget worm fishing. When I was a wee lad fishing with dad, I’d grow impatient and wiggle the rod tip. Dad would tell me to sit still, but that doodling would often produce a bite.
 
Doodling is what they call it today. It’s a worm fishing tactic practiced by some of the best bass fishermen. With a 4 – to 5-inch plastic worm on an Eagle Claw Lazer Wide Gap Worm Hook, wiggle the rod tip for a few seconds, then relax for 30 seconds. If there’s a bass in the neighborhood, he’ll probably take the bait.
 
-Hook, Line & Sinker
 
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The Ins and Outs of Soccer

Played indoors, soccer remains a great game, but equipment needs can differ.
 
Did you know that more people play soccer than any other sport in the world? An estimated 265 million, in fact, and that’s more than those who play basketball, baseball, football, tennis and golf!
 
Soccer, which is known as football in most countries, has traditionally been an outdoor sport. However, in recent decades a growing trend has been taking the internationally beloved game indoors. Today, indoor leagues are growing in number, and players of all ages are kicking the soccer ball both in the great outdoors and in arenas. The indoor sport is particularly popular in the northern United States and Canada, where the outdoor season is brief and facilities built for hockey and basketball are readily available for indoor soccer games.
 
The outdoor and indoor games are similar in that players use their feet (and sometimes their heads) to drive a ball into a goal and score points, but there are some differences that are game changers.
 
Indoor fields, for example, are half the size of their 400-foot outdoor counterparts. In other words, they’re the same size as the ice rinks on which hockey is played. That’s no coincidence since many indoor soccer venues are converted hockey arenas. Most are covered with artificial turf, although the game is sometimes played on hardwood basketball courts. Some rules are different as well. There are no kick-ins, throw-ins or out-of-bounds in indoor soccer. Because the playing area of a hockey arena is walled in, the ball remains in play if it bounces off the walls. If the ball clears the wall, the team that touched it last is allowed a free kick at the spot where the ball left the arena. The sliding tackle, a useful tactic on outdoors grass, is banned by most indoor leagues, since it can result in injury on hard indoor surfaces. The offside rule, common to outdoor soccer, is not enforced by most indoor leagues. Many indoor leagues use a penalty box where the player must sit out a yellow-card infraction. Again, hockey arenas, which include a penalty box, make this rule convenient.
 
Of course, it’s not just field size and rules that distinguish the indoor game from the outdoor variety. Whether you can move like Messi or bend it like Beckham is dependent in part on the equipment with which you play the game – equipment that is specific to indoor and outdoor play.
 
From the Ground Up
 
Since soccer is played primarily with the feet, selecting a shoe is among the most important gear choices a soccer player has to make, so let’s talk about shoes first. In general, there are two types: outdoor cleats and indoor turf shoes.
 
Outdoor cleats are made of rubber, plastic or metal and are designed to dig into grassy fields for better grip. And, according to Peter Hong, assistant merchandise manager for adidas, there are a few things you should keep in mind when choosing a pair.
 
Fit is the most important thing to consider. A shoe that’s too big or small will not only hurt your feet but it can also affect your touch and feel when handling the ball. Technology is key to both how the shoe contributes to speed afoot and ball handling capability, and all of the adidas lines are designed with different properties in mind. For example, the F50 line – Hong’s favorite – was designed in collaboration with Lionel Messi, one of the game’s fastest players. So it’s not surprising that the shoe is engineered to optimize speed. That capability is in part the result of a new stud configuration meant to enable maximum acceleration on firm ground. The shoe features a new lightweight HybridTouch synthetic leather upper so its weight won’t drag you down. DribbleTex technology provides a textured grip to enable high-speed dribbling and excellent ball control under all conditions.
 
The brilliantly colored Nitrocharge shoe was inspired by Brazil, site of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and that country’s carnival tradition. With EnergyPulse design, the Nitrocharge optimizes energy transfer and provides a claw-like grip on firm ground. Its lightweight design and glove-like feel optimize ball handling.
 
Turf shoes designed for indoor soccer have small rubber cleats or a flat, rubber bottom to keep you from damaging the carpet while providing better traction on hard surfaces. Your Dunham’s sales consultant can help you choose a shoe that’s just right for your soccer league.
 
Shin guards and balls are also important parts of both indoor and outdoor games, and adidas makes them in various styles, sizes and colors. Some indoor players wear extra protective gear in that fast play on hardwood floors or firm turf is more likely to result in injury than is outdoor play on grass. Even the balls used indoors are different than those used outdoors and are designed specifically for the fast pace of arena play.
 
So, whether you’re looking for the latest technology in cleats, cool turf shoes in more colors than you can imagine, or shin guards to match your gear, a wealth of options are available at Dunham’s, where you’re sure to score something that’s perfect for you.
 
-Soccer Mom
 
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Advancements In Golf Technology = Better Scores

Twenty years ago, Davis Love III led the PGA Tour with an average driving distance of nearly 284 yards. Through February 9 of this year, Bubba Watson led the Tour with an average drive of 322 yards – an improvement of nearly 40 yards! To many, that speaks to significant improvements in technology. The same technology that is enabling pros to hit a driver well over 300 yards and a 7 iron 200 yards is making it easier and more enjoyable for the average person to enjoy a round of golf.
 
Hot Drivers
 
Peruse popular golf publications and you will quickly notice that every manufacturer promises a “hot” driver. How they achieve the results, which enable even amateurs to hit drives straight and long, differs by manufacturer.
 
Dunham’s shoppers may have noticed a similar design approach from other manufacturers to clubs other than the driver. The idea is to remove weight where it’s not needed and to enable the clubface to deflect at the moment of impact, creating said trampoline effect. TaylorMade has used this approach with its RocketBallz fairway and hybrids and is employing a different strategy with its latest drivers.
 
“In our driver and fairway woods, we’ve moved the center of gravity lower and forward. Golfers are realizing more ideal launch angles and lower spin conditions,” said Tom Kroll, TaylorMade golf.
 
Here’s a practical example of what lower spin conditions mean: a good friend and golf pro put the TaylorMade SLDR driver in his bag last fall and immediately gained 30 yards! This year, TaylorMade has introduced the JetSpeed driver.
 
“Compared to the SLDR, the JetSpeed is going to launch the ball higher and with more spin. The SLDR also has a sliding weight that can be adjusted to control the draw or fade bias,” Kroll added.
 
Get on the Green
 
Hitting a great drive is a great feeling. However, to truly score, you must hit the green with your approach. Today’s technology can help you here, as well.
 
“Owning the second shot is what Adams Golf is known for. Our heritage has been about fairway woods, hybrids and irons. We have the equipment to enable less-experienced golfers to get on the green with the second shot, to own that shot,” Wood explained.
 
Technological advancements have also found their way into irons.
 
“Five years ago we introduced our Cut Thru-Slot design, which enhances ball speed and ball flight. This design creates a very thin face that flexes when it connects with the ball. The result is a trampoline-like effect that really launches the ball. Even if you mishit the club, you’re still going to get good results,” said Jeff Wood of Adams Golf.
 
“If you’re playing irons that don’t have a speed pocket, you’re playing with old technology. The speed pocket gives golfers speed where they need it most, since the majority of amateurs contact the ball below the center of the clubface. This technology increases launch angle and distance,” Kroll said.
 
Have a Ball
 
Manufacturers have also spent a great deal of their R&D improving the ball we play. Many companies are promoting choosing a ball based on your individual swing speed, desired ball flight and the amount of feel you want around the green.
 
“TaylorMade is launching three balls this year,” Kroll said. “Our new Tour Preferred and Tour Preferred X are ideal for the better player. They feature a new Soft Tech cover for improved greenside spin and control.”
 
If you’re a scratch player, consider the Tour Preferred X model. An intriguing option for golfers of all levels is TaylorMade’s third new ball for 2014: the Project (a).
 
“Project (a) is designed for amateur golfers, though we saw a lot of single-digit golfers play this ball at Pebble Beach in February,” Kroll added. The company claims greater distance with all clubs, as well as significant and consistent spin with all irons. At under $32.00, I plan on checking it out.
 
For 2014, Nike is expanding its RZN line of golf balls.
 
“We’re launching RZN Black, Platinum, White, and Red this year, each explicitly designed for specific golfers,” said Chris Coffman of Nike.
 
The first two are designed for golfers of moderate to higher swing speeds. Those who want maximum distance should choose the RZN Black, while those who want more feel will prefer the RZN Platinum. Golfers with moderate to slower swing speeds will find the RZN Red and the RZN White more suited to their game. The RZN Red delivers more distance, while the RZN White delivers more feel.
 
There’s a lot to be said for technology. It has made our cars safer, phones smaller and the game of golf more enjoyable. With the right equipment and advice from our knowledgeable staff, next time someone asks you about your golf game, you can happily reply, “It’s par for the course.”
 
Nick Lico has dual passions: writing and golf. An avid player for 30 years, he has spent the last five years teaching golf at various after-school programs in Metro Detroit.
 
-Par Shooter
 
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Spring: A Season for Renewal

[Written by Peter Nielsen].
 
It’s been a long, hard winter but finally spring has arrived! Soon we’ll be shedding our heavy winter clothes and embracing the lush, green growth of trees and gardens , and the warming air that greets us each morning. Neighbors we haven’t seen all winter will be out working in their yards, walking or jogging, and soon fresh spring produce will arrive at the grocer’s. It’s a great time of year to renew your health resolutions or make a new commitment to a healthy life!
 
After long months spent indoors, it can be a big challenge to adopt a major fitness program, especially if you have a busy schedule. Ease into it!
 
• Choose an activity you will enjoy!
 
• If your schedule makes it difficult to set aside a 30 minute block of time, try three 10-minute workouts or walks.
 
• Walk or bike to work or to the local store.
Wear a pedometer to keep track of the number of steps you take and and set a goal to increase the amount you walk. A Harvard study found that taking six thousand steps a day is correlated with a lower death rate in men.
 
• Park your car a distance from your destination and walk.
 
• Use stairs instead of the elevator.
 
• Take a walk at lunch with coworkers.
 
• Join an office or community sports league.
 
If you’re hungry when you get home from your fitness outing, try a handful of nuts! A study from Loma Linda University found that participants eating a diet that has majority of fat coming from almonds resulted in significantly higher loss of body and abdominal fat in 24 weeks than participants who ate the same amount of calories with more carbs and less fat. Other nuts to add to your diet include Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts and walnuts.
 
You’ll probably be thirsty too! Drink plenty of water; researchers in Germany found that drinking two cups of cold water can boost metabolic rate by 30 percent! If you have a taste for something different try green tea, its primary ingredient – epigallocatechin gallate – reduces the effect of the enzyme that normally breaks down norepinephrine. That keeps the metabolic rate up, and you burn more calories throughout the day. Black tea also aids fat loss. A study conducted by University College in London found that drinking black tea regularly can reduce levels of cortisol, a stress hormone that encourages fat storage around the midsection.
 
Make physical activity a regular part of your day and you’ll begin to notice some positive changes, whether it’s weight loss, a smaller waist or a new, fuller sense of well-being.
 
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Beginner Golfers Can Play Like the Pros

With Today’s Game-Improvement Equipment
 
If you are old enough to remember when every golf iron was a blade and drivers were made of persimmon, then you know how difficult golf could be. And that was for seasoned golfers. For newcomers, it was easy to get frustrated enough to quit the game before they even had time to master the fundamentals. That’s not the case nowadays. Thanks to advancements in technology, new golfers can enjoy the sport from their first round. Like any new venture, you should seriously consider how much time you will truly devote to it before making a significant monetary investment. Fortunately, Dunham’s has you covered.
 
Choose the Right Clubs
 
Frankly, golf clubs have improved so much that it’s difficult to make a wrong choice. One issue I see frequently with new golfers is not getting fitted for the clubs. Often, they’ll buy clubs with shafts that are too stiff for their swing speed and can’t figure out why all their shots go to the right (for right-handed players). Many Dunham’s stores are Fairway Center stores, meaning they carry a full complement of golf equipment and are staffed with knowledgeable consultants. Some stores also have an indoor driving range where a golf professional can help you choose the right clubs based on your swing speed and predominant ball flight. This is a free service, so be sure to take full advantage of it.
 
Complete Sets
 
Many beginners find that a “boxed set” makes a great deal of sense, since it includes a full set of clubs and a golf bag. A popular brand for these is Adams Golf and its Speedline and Tight Lies models. Ideal for newer golfers, they include an oversized driver, oversized woods, irons, wedges, a putter and the aforementioned golf bag. They are available for men and women.
 
“We offer a range of clubs that are entry-level priced and easy to hit. They feature club heads that are a little larger than the ones the tour players play and a thicker sole (on the irons) to get you through the rough,” said Jeff Wood of Adams Golf. “These are very forgiving clubs and we’ve found that the easier it is to hit the club, the more likely you are to stay with the game.” Dunham’s also carries the Idea irons from Adams Golf.
 
“Our new Idea Hybrid irons are designed to make the game easier – golfers will notice their miss-hits aren’t as punishing with these. They feature our new Cut Thru-Slot design, which enhances ball speed and ball flight. Golfers of all levels will see more consistent gaps (distance) between the clubs,” Wood added.
 
For youngsters who want to emulate Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy or Michelle Wie, Dunham’s carries two Nike VR S Junior starter sets. Size one is a five-piece set that includes an oversized driver, a 7 iron, a sand wedge, a putter and a lightweight carry bag with kickstand. This is ideal for younger children. For older children, we recommend the size two set from Nike. It adds a 4 hybrid and a 9 iron to the size one set. The clubs are longer for taller children. The Nike VR S Junior size one set is available only for right-handed players, while size two is available for left-handers, as well. Dunham’s also carries Nike products for adult golfers.
 
Don’t Overlook Last Year’s Models
 
Like the car companies, the golf industry introduces new models every year and discounts the previous-year’s models, making them ideal choices for golfers of all levels.
 
“The 2013 VRS Covert line of drivers, fairway woods and hybrids that some of the top players in the game have played are now a great option for all golfers (as shown at the top of the facing page). This was the first high-speed cavity-back driver in golf and promotes improved forgiveness. It has a hotter face for more distance. Since they’re last year’s model, they’re available at a significant discount,” said Chris Coffman of Nike.
 
“For beginner irons, I would recommend looking for either our RocketBallz set or RocketBladez since they are previous-year models. They are great irons and will be a much better price for someone just starting,” added TaylorMade’s Tom Kroll.
 
Also available at significant discounts are the RocketBallz driver, fairway woods and hybrids. These are some of the best clubs I have ever hit and it’s the clubs you will most frequently see on golf courses.
 
Have Fun
 
What we have yet to discuss in this article is perhaps one of the most important elements for beginner golfers – though it applies to experienced duffers, as well: have fun! This is a great sport that can be enjoyed your entire life. It’s also one of the very few sports where grandparents and grandkids can enjoy simultaneously.
 
“Don’t get tied up in your score,” advises Coffman. “Focus on hitting good shots and see a club professional for lessons. You would be surprised to discover how big a difference having the proper grip, aim, stance and posture will make to your game and your enjoyment of the sport.”
 
Nick Lico has dual passions: writing and golf. An avid player for 30 years, he has spent the last five years teaching golf at various after-school programs in Metro Detroit.
 
-Par Shooter
 
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Moving On Up

 
You’ve moved up through the ranks of amateur baseball and are looking for equipment that’s as good as your game. Dunham’s can help!
 
Remember your Tee Ball days? Everyone chose one of two or three bats that the coach provided – usually the one that looked the coolest – and a ball glove was just a ball glove. As you progressed into Little League, you became a bit more particular about the bat you swung and the glove you wielded. Now that you’re on your way to the higher levels of amateur baseball, those choices become more important every day. Without equipment that is well matched to your skill set and body type, you can’t reach your full potential.
 
In recent years high technology has reshaped the baseball bat and glove, while providing some excellent training aids. With new tight regulations dictating bat materials and dimensions, advanced design provides significant advantages. At the same time, as pro ballplayers have asked for changes in glove construction that can maximize their game, those designs have filtered down to the better amateur equipment. And simple training aids meant to simulate game conditions or improve coordination and concentration have proven a boon to players of every stripe. In the end, it’s all about optimizing your game, which will go a long way toward ensuring that as you move up through the ranks, baseball remains much more about fun than frustration.
 
Swing a Big Stick
 
It used to be simple to choose a bat. You stopped in at a store like Dunham’s, picked up a couple, and bought the one that you could swing with ease – the one that felt good in your hands. Today’s ballplayers have a lot more to consider when choosing a bat. For example, new rules prescribe certain materials and set limits on the velocity at which the ball can come off the bat. Your Dunham’s sales consultant can help you determine what type bats are legal for play in your league.
 
Little League and most other youth leagues specify bats of a certain dimension. Non-wood bats must have been tested to ensure that they don’t exceed a performance standard. Little League baseball allows only those composite bats that are on an approved list. Dunham’s sales consultants can help you choose a bat that’s legal for the league in which you play.
 
NCAA college baseball, high school baseball and most intermediate, junior and senior leagues allow only wood bats or aluminum alloy and composite bats that meet BBCOR standards. Again, bats for various levels must be sized according to strict specifications.
 
When bat standards were first introduced, they made shopping for a bat difficult. But now, several years after the regulations have became all but universal, every bat sold by Dunham’s is legal for its intended purpose. But while all Dunham’s bats meet prescribed standards, there are numerous things to consider when choosing a bat.
Ryan J. Weller, a strategic account manager for Easton, says, “Getting the right bat for each player goes a long way toward determining the amount of success that player will have and how much they will enjoy their season.”
 
The most important factors are length, barrel diameter and weight. In general, the stronger the ballplayer, the heavier the bat. The best way to determine if a bat is too light or too heavy is by swinging it. You shouldn’t have to struggle to move the bat rapidly through your strike zone, yet if it’s too light, it will feel as though you don’t have to exert much force to move it. In other words, swinging the bat should require effort but that effort shouldn’t be debilitating. Delivering maximum force is important, but you must be able to maintain good bat speed to hit a fastball.
 
Mr. Weller says that composite materials enable a lot of manufacturing design options, resulting in bats that can enhance the game of ballplayers at the highest levels of NCAA collegiate baseball as well as high school and intermediate league players. The new Easton Mako, for example, which is available at Dunham’s, utilizes a new composite technology, which allows for longer barrels and even lighter swing weights than previous Easton offerings.
 
Dunham’s also stocks Easton’s S2, an aluminum-alloy bat with a composite handle that’s joined to the barrel using Easton’s ConneXion technology. The alloy barrel expands the sweet spot and provides increased durability.
 
In addition to the Easton offerings, Dunham’s carries a wide range of Hillerich and Bradsby Louisville slugger wooden bats and DeMarini aluminum-alloy and composite bats.
 
Flashing Leather
 
While there are various things to consider when choosing a bat, selecting a ball glove requires just as much care. A glove that doesn’t fit correctly or is wrong for the player’s position is a huge disadvantage and can lead to the development of bad habits in the field. Dunham’s sales consultants have expert knowledge of baseball equipment and can help you select a glove. A number of factors are considered in arriving at an optimum choice, including level of competition, throwing hand and position played.
 
Youth league players who have advanced beyond the basic levels might choose a Wilson Softfit A800 model. These gloves are reasonably priced and engineered to not require break in. They come in various lengths and are tailored to the position played. For example, the Softfit A800 pitcher glove is available in 11.75-inch and 12-inch versions.
 
Players in advanced youth leagues or high school baseball will probably find that an A1K series glove is a good choice. Dave White, national accounts manager for Wilson says, “The A1K glove is built using the same patterns and construction techniques employed in making pro gloves but sizes them down just a bit for a more snug fit on fingers and wrists.” That fit enables better control in the field than would an overly large glove that flops around. The A1K gloves are offered as infielder, outfielder, catcher and pitcher models in a variety of lengths.
 
Taking it to the Top
 
While Dunham’s can provide the equipment you need to play at the top of your game, they also carry a variety of training aids from SKLZ, a leading manufacturer of baseball training equipment. Among them is the Quickster 5-foot sports net. With a strike-zone target outlined in the center, the Quickster provides a way for pitchers to practice their delivery almost anywhere. When a thrown pitch strikes the Quickster dead center, the net springs back and returns the ball. The Quickster is engineered for ballplayers on the go. It can be assembled in as little as 90 seconds while its TenstionTite poles provide a sturdy frame. When it’s time to move on, it can be packed into its carrying case.
 
SKLZ’s most popular product, the Hit-A-Way® is another great training aid. The concept is simple: a baseball is attached to cords that wrap around a pole. When the ball is batted, it winds its way around the pole and returns, providing another opportunity for the batter to practice his swing.
 
The Lightning Bolt Pro is an affordable pitching machine that allows hitters to perfect their game almost anywhere. The machine tosses small, lightweight balls that are difficult to hit and can make a regulation baseball look like a beach ball in comparison. The machine is particularly effective when used with the Quick Stick™ training bat. The narrow lightweight bat allows plenty of swings without fatiguing the batter, and its small diameter means full concentration is required to hit the small balls.
 
Bad bounces have led to many unearned runs and lost games. Now fielders can be ready for them by practicing with the SKLZ Reaction Ball™. Guaranteed to bounce every which way, this training ball improves reaction time and makes those impossible plays seem quite possible. How much fun is that?
 
The sun is shining, spring is in the air, and it’s time to play ball. Stop by your Dunham’s store today and get in the game.
 
-Home Run Hitter
 
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